With Magic Origins spoiler season about to kick off in earnest, several aspects of it have already been discussed at length around the various Magic-centric water coolers. For some, talk has centered largely around the five creatures-turned-planeswalkers, or ‘flipwalkers’ as they’ve come to be known (because the one thing Magic players like more than actually playing is creating more jargon). For many others, the focus has been on the changing mechanics.
The largest percentage of mechanics talk has focused on news that Scry has now officially become a mechanic that will be in most (if not every) set going forward, as is the newly coined Goblin War Drums ability known as Menace which is effectively replacing Intimidate.
I’ll admit that my personal focus on Origins to this point has been a lament that two of the longest-standing abilities in the game were getting downgraded. Landwalk is being axed, and protection is being downgraded. They justified their reasons for doing so in that the mechanics can be swingy depending on who you face, being neigh unstoppable in one case but utterly useless in another. Yet as someone who got into Magic not long after it started and grew up with them, it’s really quite sad to see these mechanics go the way of predecessors like Fear and Shroud. Plus, both of those abilities are far more useful in my domain of multiplayer Magic than in duels, so I rarely had the same issues with them that R&D apparently did.
Really, aside from the basic abilities like Flying and Trample, that only leaves Regeneration as the old stalwart mechanic. Trust me tough, between the rise in Indestructibility and the fact that it comes with slightly more rules baggage than other mechanics, members of R&D have painted a bulls-eye on Regeneration, and it’s only a matter of time before they do something to it as well.
The mechanic that probably should get the most attention in all this discussion, however, is Prowess. Introduced in the Khans block, Prowess has immediately (and without public experimentation) become a staple mechanic in sets, particularly for Blue. Wizards has been desperate for a combat-centric mechanic in Blue for years, and they believe they have finally found it here. Hence the fast track.
Prowess certainly has potential, as it gives the color the ability to do things in combat without becoming as efficient or scary as other more combat-centric colors. Prowess is continent on casting spells and is temporary, making it a bit more unreliable than something like trample or first strike, but as Khans has already shown, it can be quite potent if used correctly.
Of course, only time will tell how this experiment pays off. Some cautiously feel that, in tandem with other creature abilities, Prowess could be too strong, while others worry that its more situational nature won’t make it powerful enough to hold the Blue combat mantle. Moreover, what I find particularly interesting is that where your opinion on this mechanic’s quick infusion into mainstream Magic says more about how you view Blue than about the mechanic itself.
In many ways Blue is the hardest color to pigeon-hole. Red likes to burn stuff and Green likes creatures. Blue likes to…be Blue. It enjoys being tricky. Its identity is wrapped up in having options while doing what it can to stifle yours, whether that’s through drawing cards, or counterspells, or an army of flying creatures. Generally, Blue is shifty and doesn’t run at you head-on. It’s why it’s often the hardest color for new players to grasp and why its use is so prevalent with upper-tier tournament players. Therefore, if we need to be reductive, Blue is all about measured control.
So, then, what in the world is the point of this week’s pick?
Today we have: Conjured Currency
Name: Conjured Currency
Edition: Return to Ravnica
Focus: Control Magic
Highlights: Conjured Currency isn’t a card that will offer you a deep well of strategy. Rather, its purpose is in disrupting the strategies of others. One of Blue’s many items in its bag of tricks is the ability to steal permanents (usually creatures) from other players, but this approaches that idea with a more chaotic style than you typically see. Indeed, Conjured Currency could easily have been a Blue / Red card, especially since it was from the Ravnica block.
That being said, Blue is known for occasionally having cards that cause all sorts of in-game havoc. From Eye of the Storm to Hive Mind to Psychic Battle, Blue has no problem tilting the game 45 degrees to keep their opponents off guard – or simply to see what happens.
Conjured Currency is all about the latter. Conjured Currency isn’t going to win you games, but still has its uses and does so particularly effectively. Its use isn’t always immediate and its worthiness is more about being a detriment to other people’s plans than it is about providing you any sort of linear tactical advantage. Like any other form of mind games, this card is about disrupting a predictable table state, and it works rather well.
Part of the reason for this is because, like its cohorts, it affects everyone equally. The caster of this enchantment isn’t any more immune to other players taking their stuff than anyone else, often giving this enchantment just enough diffusion of hate to last a little while on the table – though many players with more direct style Commander decks will probably want to remove it (or you) ASAP. Bear that in mind.
At the same time, Conjured Currency isn’t necessarily always seen as a hindrance to everyone at the table. In fact, in many cases, this enchantment can give other players the leverage needed to stop the person with the best board advantage in a way that they otherwise wouldn’t have had access to. In a best case scenario, players will slowly shift around the most problematic volume of permanents on the board to keep things evenly distributed – or take something to give themselves a leg up on the most problematic opponents. At worst, though, it can backfire if no one is willing to poke at anyone else but you.
Still, if you don’t mind having a bit of fun in EDH, it’s worth the gamble. Like some of Red’s change-up cards, Conjured Currency adds a bit of irreverence to EDH games where overthinking can be – and often is – a problem. Conjured Currency just does it a bit more passively, and as it proves quite fittingly, that mix of measured response while simultaneously embracing the whirlwind gives you exactly what you paid for.
Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.
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